Timothy Loehmann, the police officer who shot Ohio teen Tamir Rice to death, had a history of emotional instability and "dismal" work performance.
Rice was holding a toy gun when Loehmann and his partner pulled up in a police cruiser and gunned him down in under two seconds late last month. Before the Cleveland Police knew that the incident had been captured on video, officers told an entirely different story, saying that Rice, 12, was with a group of boys and that he was waving the gun in the air as if he intended to shoot someone.
The Guardian's Tom McCarthy reported Wednesday that Loehmann has a history of poor work performance, including a disturbing incident at a firing range that took place during the six months that Loehmann worked for the police force in suburban Independence, Ohio.
Loehmann arrived at a weapons training session in late 2012 despondent over a breakup with his girlfriend. Loehmann reportedly became "distracted," "weepy" and incommunicative with superior officers during a live firing exercise.
Suicides are little-spoken-of problem in the gun range business. Customers shoot themselves or others at U.S. gun ranges every year. Accurate numbers are difficult to obtain because these deaths are often characterized as "accidents" by range-owners eager to shield themselves from liability.
Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence Police described Loehmann's actions and demeanor in a police report about the 2012 incident.
"He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal," wrote Polak.
Loehmann, he continued, "was just not mentally prepared to be doing firearm training." When superior officers intervened and attempted to calm him, Loehmann "continued with his emotional meltdown to a point where" he had to be escorted from the live fire area.
“Due to this dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment,” Polak wrote. “For these reasons, I am recommending he be released from the employment of the city of Independence. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”
Loehmann resigned from the Independence Police Department on Dec. 3, 2012, three days after Polak's report was written.